By Harsha Amarasinghe
Air Force Sports Club secured their first victory of the Dialog Inter-Club League Rugby Tournament following a gutsy display against Police Sports Club at Ratmalana yesterday.
It was a fine defensive display from the Airmen that ensured a 15 (2-tries, 1-conversion, 1-penalty) to 7 (1-try, 1-conversion) triumph at arguably one of the most picturesque rugby venues in Sri Lanka.
Full-back Rumesh Ramdas proved to be the decisive man for Air Force as he bagged a try on his return to competitive rugby. The former St. Anthony’s speedster missed the first two weeks of the season due to a hamstring injury but, the interim coach Saumya Silva unleashed probably their fastest man and that turned out to be a master ploy.
Despite taking a half time lead of 7-0, Air Force were put under some pressure by the Cops, but Ramdas eased the pressure of Airmen in the 49th minute as he finished off a three quarter move to extend their lead. Fly-half Gayantha Iddamalgoda was unable to make the conversion which meant their lead remained on 12-0.
Police struck back with a similar try nine minutes later as their backs worked the ball very well before sending full-back Suranga Kasun over the line near the corner flag. This however, left place kicker Sandesh Jayawickrama with a difficult to conversion to make, but the former St. Peter’s skipper absolutely nailed the conversion bringing his team back to the game.
Police who are still to register a victory this season fought hard towards the end of the game, but perhaps in desperation to close the gap, they conceded a penalty about thirty metres away from the post which eventually presented an opportunity for their opponents to extend the lead. It was centre Charith Seneviratne who stepped up to take the kick and the veteran place kicker made no mistake with the penalty which gave them 15-7 lead.
Air Force were able to take a 7-0 lead in the first half courtesy of a try from their new signing Radeesha Seneviratne, but they had a few other scoring opportunities in that half which were all squandered. Airmen could certainly be pleased with the win, but they should have pushed for a bonus point in arguably the easiest fixture of the season.
Police on the other hand made some school-level mistakes in the game, especially in ball handling. At the end of first three weeks of the competition, the Cops have found themselves at the rock bottom of the points table.